President and CEO of the Dryden Regional Health Centre, Doreen Armstrong-Ross, says that while the hospital doesn’t have a confirmed time-line yet, they will be rescheduling non-essential and elective surgeries as soon as possible.
On May 7, hospitals received direction from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to cancel and postpone any non-essential and elective surgeries, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 into Ontario hospitals.
Armstrong-Ross says that Ontario hospitals and the Ministry of Health have begun coordinating their efforts to reintroduce clinical activities and procedures, and a confirmed date on when those can resume is expected within two weeks.
“This document from the Ministry of Health outlines what must be taken into account when a hospital is looking to resume surgeries and procedures. There’s quite a few conditions that must be met prior to that happening,” said Armstrong-Ross.
“We definitely need to look at our local needs, but also in context of Ontario’s health needs. It will be a coordinated approach across the province to resuming these surgeries and procedures.”
She says that Ontario hospitals have been mandated to keep a certain percentage of their inpatient beds available for possible COVID-19 patients, and hospitals will need to ensure a steady supply of personal protective equipment.
“The other thing that needs to happen, the direction that prohibited us from doing any non-essential and elective procedures also needs to be lifted. It has not at this time, but we are expecting that within the next two weeks. We will have our plan in place, which will then be sent for approval to the ministry.”
Armstrong-Ross also notes that a task-force has been created in the last few weeks that has been working to analyze how the hospital would resume regular activities.
Armstrong-Ross says some of this work includes wait-lists, the amount of surgeries they can perform in a day, COVID-19 social distancing remaining in place for hospital staff and service coordination with community partners.
“The coordinated approach in the community means that the hospital will be working with our community partners to ensure that the activity here is sustainable for them as well. Rehab services, home and community care services, public health and long-term care will need to ensure that they will need to do their part effectively as well.”
Armstrong-Ross notes that staff are testing between one to three patients for the coronavirus each day, and are are continuing to conduct mock exercises to stay prepared for a possible second wave.